In its final year under the Alfa Romeo identity, the team had a disappointing season, finishing only ninth in the world championship, with Valtteri Bottas logging two eighth places and his team-mate Zhou Guanyu never bettering ninth.
Having observed the process of change that the Swiss outfit is undergoing ahead of the entry of Audi in 2026, Bottas is expecting an improved performance this year under the interim fluorescent green and black identity revealed on Monday.
“Going into the third season together with a team, the objectives need to be lofty,” said the Finn.
“My own expectations are high, we definitely need to make a good step and see good progress from last year, a season in which, in all honesty, we didn’t meet the goals that we set for ourselves.
“We need to fix that now, we need to step up our game and do better. Seeing all the changes that have been happening in the team is what gives me this confidence.
“We have got quite a bit of new resources in different departments of the team, we have a whole new identity, the new car looks different – and not just in terms of livery. All this gives me the confidence that we’re on a different path, hopefully the right path.”
Photo by: Sauber
Bottas says that the new C44’s eye-catching color scheme lends itself to the transition that the team is undergoing.
“I think the new look reflects the team’s approach for the future,” he said. “It’s new, it’s exciting. There have been changes in the team’s approach, and even the visuals look very different.
“I followed suit – even my hair looks a different color! I think the team’s approach is a good reflection on the mindset we are going to have for the future. Change can sometimes be a force for good.”
He added: “Looks are important, but they’re secondary to performance, of course. In the end, if the car is fast and we are performing as a team, nothing else really matters. That’s what everyone in the team ultimately cares about “
Photo by: Sauber F1 Team
Zhou is also bullish about prospects for a campaign that will see him compete in his home race in China for the first time.
“We’ve been putting in a lot of effort since the last season,” he said. “Especially in the second half of the year, after the summer break, just to make sure that we’re understanding exactly where we had to improve as a team, and what the plan for the guys back in the factory would be for the winter .
“Now is the time to put everything together and get the car on track. The expectations are high but, at the same time, we won’t know where we really stand until we start competing against our rivals.
“Still, a lot of effort went into the new car, and I’m excited to drive it soon.”